Archive for December 31, 2010

Carnival of souls: Year-enders, variants, Joyce Farmer, more

December 31, 2010

* They’ll look familiar to you if you’ve read my own 20 Best Comics of 2010 list, but I have some more write-ups in Comic Book Resources’ Top 100 Comics of 2010 countdown: Weathercraft, Special Exits, Wally Gropius, Wilson, Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, Grant Morrison’s Batman comics, and The ACME Novelty Library #20. Given CBR’s mission and audience, that’s a really solid Top 10.

* Reading Paul O’Brien’s latest report on Marvel’s monthly sales made me realize the havoc that variant editions must wreak on retailers’ ability to properly judge how many copies of comics to order for their customers. I mean, read this paragraph about the publisher’s best seller, Avengers:

This is the start of the book’s second storyline, but don’t read too much into the big sales increase just yet. The first five issues were heavily supported by variant covers, including 1:75 “character” variants by John Romita Jr. Issue #6, for some reason, was allowed to fend for itself. But with issue #7, it’s back to business as usual – this has a 1:15 Tron variant, a 1:25 Ed McGuinness variant, and a 1:50 Marko Djurdjevic gatefold variant. It also introduces the Red Hulk into the cast, which might be something of a draw; HULK sales may have passed their peak, but there’s still a significant audience there who might not have been buying the book before.

DC, of course, does the same thing:

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6 and Batman and Robin #16, both of which were meant to be out in September, each had a 1:25 variant-cover edition to boost sales. Batman: The Return #1 (originally scheduled for October) and Batman, Inc. #1 had 1:200 variant editions in addition to the 1:25 ones. Batman and Robin #17, finally, which was solicited with a different creative team and ended up being the first part of a three-issue fill-in run, came with a plain old vanilla 1:10 variant-cover edition.

That’s a lot of hoops to jump through, and I have to imagine that’s the last thing the Direct Market needs right now. (Bonus points to DC analyst Marc-Oliver Frisch for reacting to the shenanigans the way that card dealer reacts to being able to leave the table after dealing to a drunk and belligerent Joe Pesci in Casino.)

* Chris Mautner interviews Eric Reynolds about Mome: part one, part two. (Via Kevin Melrose.)

* Alex Dueben interviews Joyce Farmer about Special Exits. Farmer says she worked on the book for 13 years, and threw away the first 35 pages after she finished them because she felt they weren’t up to snuff.

* I think this is the only time I’ve ever found eyebrowless-era David Bowie attractive.

Album of the Year of the Day: David Bowie – Station to Station [Deluxe Edition]

December 31, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best albums of 2010. Today’s album is the Deluxe Edition of Station to Station by David Bowie — between the all-ought breakneck onslaught of the 1976 live performance in my hometown arena of Nassau Coliseum and the simpler, woodier sound of the analog-remaster version of the album itself, it’s a point-blank blast from the European cannon.

Click here to buy it from Amazon.

The 20 Best Comics of 2010

December 31, 2010

20. Boy’s Club #4, by Matt Furie (Pigeon Press) / Night Business #3, by Benjamin Marra (Traditional Comics)
I don’t know if there are any other comics around I feel more simpatico with than the flagship series of Matt Furie and Ben Marra. In Boy’s Club’s stoner/slacker sight gags and quote-laden dialoge, and in Night Business’s overpowering love for trash and sex and violence, I see myself. In some alternate earth, I’d be making comics exactly like these. Fortunately for me, I live on this earth, where someone else is there to do the work and I can just sit back and enjoy it.

19.Fandancer, by Geoff Grogan (self-published)
Taking advantage of the large scale of its pages better than any comic I read this year this side of Absolute All-Star Superman, Grogan’s latest self-published stunner crams Jack Kirby superheroics into the history of mid-to-late 20th century art and feminism by any means necessary. Inscrutable, personal, beautiful.

18. B.P.R.D./Hellboy, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, Duncan Fegredo, and others (Dark Horse) / Invincible, by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley (Image)
I read and enjoyed a lot of superhero comics this year: Captain America, Secret Avengers, Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, The Marvels Project, Incognito, Atlas, Marvel Boy, Gorilla Man, Thunderbolts, Hulk, Incredible Hercules, Prince of Power, Chaos War, Fantastic Four, Invincible Iron Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Comics Enemy/Mystery/Doom, Powers, Green Lantern, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, The Flash, Superman: Secret Origin, Action Comics, Astro City, Joe the Barbarian. But here’s the thing: No superhero comics (with the exception of one you’ll find later in this list) deliver the feeling that anything, anything, can happen in their pages the way that Invincible and the comics of the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe do. When I begin to read the latest issue of these series, it’s with that same visceral thrill I used to get from The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and Twin Peaks: I simply have no idea what is going to happen to the characters this time around, no idea what will happen to their world, no idea if they’ll even make it to the end of the issue. Their creators play by no rules and are manifestly having the time of their lives doing it. That’s the feeling I wish I could get from every single other superhero comic I read. Even the good ones.

17. Afrodisiac, by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca (AdHouse)
Far more than just a superhero/blaxploitation parody – although it’s both of those things, and awesome at them besides – Rugg and Maruca’s cleverly written, beautifully drawn, impeccably edited and designed collection of short stories about their ghetto superhero is also a rich meditation on the interplay between artist, audience, subject, and society.

16. It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)
French master Tardi does to the Great War what the Great War did to the bodies of millions of young soldiers: blow it wide open and root in the mess. Depicted primarily in an unyielding onslaught of widescreen panels, it’s like a slog through the trenches itself. Furious and full of contempt for war and its masters.

15. A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)
I gasped aloud repeatedly while experiencing the sheer loveliness of this book, a collection of short stories from throughout the decades by shoujo-manga pioneer Moto Hagio. Best of all, there’s a cake beneath all that icing, as Hagio’s stories are frequently sophisticated, moving, and unwilling to pull punches.

14. The Troll King, by Kolbeinn Karlsson (Top Shelf)
Top Shelf’s Swedish invasion yields one of the happiest surprises of the year, an exploration of queerness and monstrosity that gives a method to the illustrative madness of contemporary artcomix. I have a feeling this one was underseen and underread: By all means, see it, read it, enjoy it.

13. Prison Pit Book 2, by Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphics)
Johnny Ryan journeys deeper than ever before into his inner ickiness and returns with an action-horror hybrid it’s almost impossible to “enjoy” in the traditional sense of the word – and which thereby takes those two genres in stunning new directions. Put it this way: In Fantagraphics’ Spring 2011 catalog, his next comedy collection is described in “Prison Pit’s awesome, but did you know he made humor comics too?” The tide has turned and his star is made.

12. Closed Caption Comics #9, by various (Closed Caption Comics) / Death Trap, by Lane Milburn (self-published)
2010 was a fine year for art-comics anthologies: The Fort Thunder reunion Monster, Zack Soto’s beautiful West Coast showcase Studygroup12 #4, the charming and bold British import Mould Map #1, Marvel’s increasingly tonally daring Strange Tales II, a strong year from Fantagraphics’ Mome…and that’s without even having read the newsprint anthologies pood, Diamond Comics, and Smoke Signals. Similarly, alt-horror had another tremendous year, with uncompromising and disturbing work from Renee French, Lisa Hanawalt, Michael DeForge, Nora Krug, Noel Freibert, and more besides. But my favorite examples of these two subgenres came straight outta Baltimore’s Closed Caption Comics collective. The latest installment of their flagship anthology is its most ambitious, bleakest, and best one to date, with truly horrifying work from Mr. Freibert and Conor Stechschulte and an array of never-better performances from the rest of the group; meanwhile, member Lane Milburn’s Xeric-winning solo showcase combines the best of creature-feature and grindhouse horror, delivered with gorgeous, meaty cartooning.

11. Artichoke Tales, by Megan Kelso (Fantagraphics)
A war comic like none you’ve ever read, Megan Kelso’s ambitious alt-fantasy is concerned not with conflict’s immediate carnage, but with its lasting effects on the societies engaged in it – economic, cultural, religious, familial, even geographical. I found it humanistic, unsparing, and fascinating.

10. Weathercraft, by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
It’s always darkest before the dawn, and the psychedelic body-horror of Jim Woodring has never been darker than it gets here. His hapless, villainous Manhog is made to suffer like you’ve seen few comics characters suffer before in any style or genre…only to emerge enlightened and overjoyed on the other side in a final act that feels like that first breath of fresh cool air after you’ve hidden your head under the covers in terror for minutes on end.

9. If ‘n Oof, by Brian Chippendale (PictureBox)
The Fort Thunder/Lightning Bolt noise warrior creates his funniest, most action-packed, most accessible comic yet, one splash page at a time. It’s a bracing combination of science-fiction worldbuilding, Dark Tower-style glimpses of a larger superstructure behind it, buddy-movie laughs, action-movie pacing, and Chippendale’s typically under-the-radar melancholy. This is where he shows he really is one of his generation’s greats.

8. Big Questions #14-15, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
Anders Nilsen’s decade-in-the-making flagship series concludes with an ending as explosive and uncompromising as its art is delicate and vulnerable. Elsewhere I’ve called this the best and most important funny-animal comic since Maus. I’m sticking to that. If next year’s collected edition isn’t on top of my Best of 2011 list, then will have been some kind of miracle year.

7. Special Exits, by Joyce Farmer (Fantagraphics)
Underground-comix journeywoman Joyce Farmer returns with a 200-page chronicle of the decline and death of her aging and infirm parents, with nearly every meticulously crosshatched panel drawn as if her life depended on it. Maybe it did. This is a magnum opus no one expected to read, a brutally frank depiction of what it’s like for full lives you love to end, and it has the most painfully happy ending of the year. It made me cry. Don’t do what I almost did and ignore one of the year’s most moving comics.

6. Wilson, by Daniel Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)
I think this is Clowes’s meanest book, but not for the reasons you think – it’s not Misanthropy On Parade like a lot of his old, witheringly sarcastic rant comics were. No, what’s mean about Wilson is that Clowes keeps giving his loudmouth, obliviously cruel protagonist a chance, right down to the often incongruously cute cartooning, and Wilson keeps slapping that chance away. Sympathetic portraits are often the most unflattering ones; no wonder so many people wanted to look away.

5. X’d Out, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Pure Burns. The Black Hole author pares his visual and thematic obsessions down to the bone, revealing a colorful waking nightmare of holes, fetuses, wounds, polaroids, Tintin, and red and black nothingness. Short, sharp, shocking.

4. The Batman comics of Grant Morrison (DC)
Dark, witty, mysterious, eerie, thrilling, and endlessly re-readable, Grant Morrison’s Batman books — Batman and Robin, his three issues of Batman proper, Batman: The Return, and Batman Incorporated — featured career-best art by Cameron Stewart and Frazer Irving and got me pumped for the experience of reading new comics like no other books. They’re exactly why I read superhero comics. The only problem is that they’ve kind of spoiled me for other ones.

3. Wally Gropius, by Tim Hensley (Fantagraphics)
The first great comic of the Great Recession. Tim Hensley’s breakout graphic novel, previously serialized in the Mome anthology, seems like a send-up of silly ‘60s teen-comedy and kid-millionaire comics on the surface, but beneath lies as odd and accurate a cri de coeur about capitalism and consumerism as I’ve ever read. It also does things with body language I’ve never seen in comics, and is funny as hell to boot. There’s nothing else out there like it.

2. High Soft Lisp / Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
This year I read nearly every comic ever created by Los Bros Hernandez; what a pleasure to discover at the end of my immersion that their two most recent comics are also two of their best, and thus two of the best comics by anyone. Gilbert and Jaime both tear furiously into love and sex in these two collections; what they find inside is ugly; what they do with it is beautiful. I’ll never forget that panel and those words — in both books.

1. The ACME Novelty Library #20: Lint, by Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
The most influential cartoonist of the past quarter century assigns himself the task of chronicling an entire life, from birth (and before) to death (and beyond?). In so doing he takes an unsympathetic bit player from his massive Rusty Brown storyline and crafts his single finest and most moving stand-alone work to date around him; launches a virtuosic, pyrotechnic display of formal mastery yet still manages to make the most important parts the stuff he never shows you. It culminates in a final page so dizzying that I actually felt physically stunned, as if someone had taken the book from my hands and struck me in the head with it. Not just the best comic of the year, but the best comic I have ever read.

For more information on and reviews of these and other great comics from 2010, check out all 31 of my Comics of the Year of the Day entries.

Comic of the Year of the Day/Comics Time: Big Questions #15

December 31, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is…

Big Questions #15
Anders Nilsen, writer/artist
Drawn & Quarterly, December 2010
48 pages
Buy it from Drawn & Quarterly

Big Questions is a series about the impossibility of learning the answers to those questions, because there are none. Even still, you might be forgiven for expecting the final issue of Anders Nilsen’s decade-in-the-making, 600-page funny-animal opus to offer some kind of benediction for the plight of its avian and human protagonists. Maybe it’s just one character who ends up really getting it, maybe it’s some magic-realist glimpse of a world beyond a la Chauncey Gardiner’s final stroll in Being There, maybe it’s just Harry discussing Item Six on the agenda or Gaston’s telling us what his mother put him on her knee and said to him or Michael Palin in drag summing things up prior to the gratuitous pictures of penises in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, but it’s something, right?

No, not really. Maybe Morris the bird’s carpe-diem credo on the final page can give us some direction, but in general, the climactic events of the previous issue end up offering little insight, and no one takes the opportunity to grow. The zealots Charlotte and Leroy remain steadfast, as do the hedonists Morris and Louis. The Idiot remains oblivious. The flock remains obedient. Even in death, the Pilot simply moves on to a world that if anything is even more baffling, and mute in the face of our bafflement. It’s all a big dark cave or a vast white field, our experiences accruing like tiny stippled dots; we draw our own conclusions, and are drawn by them.

Album of the Year of the Day: Azure Ray – Drawing Down the Moon

December 30, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best albums of 2010. Today’s album is Drawing Down the Moon by Azure Ray, released by Saddle Creek — quiet glowing balladry.

Click here to download it from Amazon.

Destructor update

December 30, 2010

Destructor is in a bad way in today’s page from “Destructor Comes to Croc-Town.”

Comic of the Year of the Day: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

December 30, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O’Malley, published by Oni — I think we’re only beginning to see the influence of this wonderful, trailblazing series, and I think in the future that influence will be far less obvious and far more profound.

I’ve always had a hard time connecting with Scott Pilgrim on the personal, emotional level a lot of its ardent admirers do, mostly, I think, because I’m a creep….[but] Scott and his friends are characters whose adventures I can enjoy even if I can’t personally really understand the thought process underneath them….[I]t’s difficult to overstate the subspace corridor opened in my head over these past few years by [O’Malley’s] overall mix-and-match aesthetic, from its non-traditional, designy use of captions and text to tell the story, to its no-explanations mix of romance and action, to his often laugh-out-loud funny dialogue and sense of timing, to most especially his incorporation of videogame tropes–just a vast reservoir of completely underutilized visual vocabulary and storytelling potential.

Click here for a full review and purchasing information.

Album of the Year of the Day: Hot Chip – One Life Stand

December 29, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best albums of 2010. Today’s album is One Life Stand by Hot Chip, released by Astralworks — their mixture of heartstring-tugging and butt-shaking is one of my favorites.

Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Uploaded by EMI_Music.

Click here to download it from Amazon.

Carnival of souls: Special “Post-Christmas/blizzard catch-up” edition

December 29, 2010

* Quick note: I am creating this post from 30,000 feet above the American Midwest, so apologies for the airplaine-wireless-mandated lo-res images.

* Like the comics blogosphere’s own version of the Jelly of the Month Club, Tom Spurgeon’s Holiday Interview Series is the gift that keeps on giving. Recent entries of note include interviews with beleaguered Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar, esteemed Drawn & Quarterly associate publisher and publicist Peggy Burns (perhaps my acquaintance of longest standing in all of comics), and garrulous webcomics craftsman Dustin Harbin.

* The most informative of the bunch so far has to be Spurge’s interview with CBR News Editor (and my friend) Kiel Phegley. Kiel serves up a survey of the state of the industry that I think will really impress you with its insight and candor, not just “coming from a CBR editor” if that’s the kind of thing that’s inclined to turn you off but coming from anybody.

* I wrote up Anders Nilsen’s masterpiece Big Questions for the first installment of Comic Book Resources’ Top 100 Comics of 2010.

* Speaking of year-enders, Tucker Stone lists his 20 Best Comics of 2010. Many fine choices on there.

* Tim O’Shea interviews Axe Cop‘s Ethan Nicolle. It’s fascinating to learn that Axe Cop is written largely through actual, literal play. I also had no idea the Nicolle Brothers have a print Axe Cop miniseries on the way from Dark Horse called Bad Guy Earth.

* Marvel’s keeps moving in the direction of day-and-date digital releases, but they’re smaller movements than I expected to see by now.

* Curt Purcell has a few quick thoughts on Battlestar Galactica. He’s also looking for recommendations as to which shows to watch next. Curt, The Sopranos and Deadwood are the best shows. The Wire is very good except for the final season. You know I loved Lost.

* And Now the Screaming Starts’ CRwM pleads for Bernard Rose’s Candyman. The post includes an anecdote that makes me really disappointed in Philip Glass.

* Fine writing by Zak Smith/Sabbath on the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter of The Hobbit and what it means for fantasy storytelling and RPG storytelling alike.

* Brian Chippendale’s last few Puke Force strips have been really good.

* Aeron Alfrey has posted a fine selection of video game covers over at Monster Brains.

* Whoa, what is up, Michael DeForge?

* Renee French titled this image “Shatner.”

* Real Life Horror 1: TPM’s Rachel Slajda presents the year in Islamophobia — to me the most dispiriting development in an already dreadful year.

* Real Life Horror 2: Glenn Greenwald continues to chronicle the harsh treatment of WikiLeak source Bradley Manning by the U.S. government. That’s the “how”; I have a feeling this lengthy round-up of revelations provided by WikiLeaks in 2010 is the “why.”

* Related: The story of #mooreandme, the vociferous Twitter protest of comments made by Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann dismissing and mischaracterizing the rape allegations against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and a link retweeted by Olbermann to an article outing the accusers.

* Real Life Horror 3: I’ve been remiss not to have linked to this already, but my home land mass of Long Island appears to have sprouted a serial killer.

* Every time I read stories like this — and that’s often — the phrase “of historic proportions” pops unbidden into my head.

Belated Destructor update

December 29, 2010

No sooner had I regained Internet access than a series of hellacious difficulties befell me, from faulty utilities to ill pets to recalcitrant airline reservations. But as bad as things have been for me over the past three days, they’re not as bad as Destructor has it in the latest page of “Destructor Comes to Croc-Town”.

Comic of the Year of the Day/Comics Time: The Wrong Place

December 29, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is…

The Wrong Place
Brecht Evens, writer/artist
Drawn & Quarterly, October 2010
184 pages
Buy it from Drawn & Quarterly
Buy it from

The brightness of Brecht Evens’s watercolor reds may well have been the only thing that helped The Wrong Place pass my traditional “if it doesn’t appeal to you at first glance, you’ve got other books to read” test. See, I’d assumed it was just one of those froofy Euro-art comics of the sort Nick Gazin describes here as “new-age bologna.” It’s just not a visual or tonal aesthetic that speaks to me. It’s also not The Wrong Place at all.

No, here’s something that is in actual fact closer to that elusive, perhaps mythical “Okay, so I like Scott Pilgrim — what else is there?” comic than to anything else: A fun, funny, sexy, insightful comic about the lives of urban twentysomethings that doesn’t pull punches about their shortcomings but also doesn’t beat you bloody with them either, told with a unique visual vocabulary that pops off the page and makes you jealous of the creator who came up with it. The two books couldn’t possibly look more different, of course — just for example, everyone remembers Bryan Lee O’Malley’s invitingly slick manga/videogame/cartoon black-and-white line, while Evens’s lush and liquid watercolors have no real lines to speak of. But O’Malley’s pop-culture grab-bag shorthand and Evens’s symphonic color-coding both serve the same purpose: Giving the reader ready-made and memorable character designs, the better to reveal character through those designs’ interactions with the environment and with one another. In Evens’s case this mostly means tracking two polar-opposite friends, legend-in-his-own-time bon vivant Robbie (he’s blue!) and dependable, well-liked but never really well-loved Gary (he’s gray!), as well as the (presumably) latest girl to spend one crazy night with Robbie, Olivia (she’s red!).

What I like best about how things play out is that Evens resists the temptation (one I thought would be irresistible) to lecture us about the shortcomings of each character’s monochromatic approach to life. Sure, Robbie’s “on” enough to make him a nice place to visit but not live, but at no point is there any indication that his life-of-the-party lifestyle is anything but fulfilling and sincerely lived; moreover he appears to genuinely care about the well-being of everyone he comes in contact with — old friends, new lovers, random people at the club, everyone. Gary’s comparative dreariness engenders empathy, not pity or disgust; I think his motives for staying in the shadow of his friend and not taking the kinds of chances Robbie takes are clear and sympathetically portrayed — that lifestyle really isn’t for everyone! — and moreover he’s a genuine and caring guy too. Olivia decides to take a chance, and as a reward has an awesome night and reality-warping sex with a super-hot and funny and interesting dude; there’s a tinge of regret in a thoughtfully colored scene after the fact, but as best I can tell it goes unheard by Robbie and presumably the two of them, being grown-ups, wake up the next morning and go on with their lives, their experience together having enriched it just that much.

I’m glad no one has an arc to speak of. Why should they? It’s just a cartoonist painting the living shit out of parties and club nights and sex scenes and subway rides, the stuff people’s lives are made of, and sometimes those lives don’t have arcs.

Thought of the day

December 28, 2010

Would President Obama call the boss of a man who tortured his dog to death to congratulate him for giving the torturer a second chance?

Album of the Year of the Day: Glasser – Ring

December 28, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best albums of 2010. Today’s album is Ring by Glasser, released by True Panther — melodic and dark, it twitches and pops until it gets airborne.

Click here to download it from Amazon.

Service update

December 28, 2010

The decision of Long Island’s weather to reenact “Immigrant Song” and “No Quarter” the other night cut off my Internet, phone, and television service from 8:50pm Sunday night until about five minutes ago. I’m sorry if I’ve failed to respond to you in a timely fashion due to this outage. I hope to catch up with everything soon.

Comic of the Year of the Day: X’d Out

December 28, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is X’d Out by Charles Burns, published by Pantheon — everything Burns does well, done with laserlike precision and utter confidence.

Even more so than in Black Hole, the images Charles Burns creates here are small, dense, and inescapable….The way those images weave themselves in and out of both his ostensible real life amid art-punks in the late ’70s and his dream-state/hallucination/extradimensional excursion/whatever it is, and the way that implies that they’re some sort of indelible fabric binding his existence together, like his life could be reduced to these eggs and holes in the wall and black-haired women and black-haired cats and drowning animals. The images are stronger for Burns’s more intense focus on the finite and discrete, on individual moments and objects. Their gravitational pull colors and distorts everything else we see.

Click here for a full review and purchasing information.

Album of the Year of the Day : Big Boi – Sir Lucious Leftfoot…The Son of Chico Dusty

December 27, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best albums of 2010. Today’s album is Sir Lucious Leftfoot…The Son of Chico Dusty by Big Boi, released by Def Jam — meaty beaty big and bouncy.

Click here to download it from Amazon.

Comic of the Year of the Day: If ‘n Oof

December 27, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is If ‘n Oof by Brian Chippendale, published by PictureBox — if you’ve ever wanted to give the Fort Thunder aesthetic a shot, start here.

Hey, have you played the new Brian Chippendale game yet? I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that reading each successive Chippendale/PictureBox graphic novel is like getting a new installment in your favorite video game series, one that shakes up the gameplay but still feels like an immersion in the original spirit you loved. From Ninja‘s giant-sized hardcover presentation, bright, buoyant black and white art, and slip-sliding layout; to Maggots‘ furtive samizdat scrawled-on-a-used-book origin, dense dark panels, and hiccuppy panel flow; and now to If ‘n Oof‘s doorstop thickness, manga-digest trim size, buddy-action-comedy tone, and one-panel-per-page design, they’re all uniformly and unmistakably Chippendale in story, art, and tone, but vastly different in terms of the sensory effect reading them has. They’re experiential, is what I’m saying–as much about the act of reading as about what is read.

Click here for a full review and purchasing information.

Comics Time: Duncan the Wonder Dog

December 27, 2010

Duncan the Wonder Dog
Adam Hines, writer/artist
AdHouse, September 2010
400 pages
Buy it from AdHouse
Buy it from

In theory this couldn’t be more down my alley: Graphically and narratively ambitious funny-animal allegory set in a world where animals can read, write, and talk, dealing unflinchingly with animal rights and animal cruelty. So why did it never fully get me on board?

Several reasons. First and foremost is the decision to eschew black and white for graytone, casting a smoky haze over every panel and turning me off on a visual level right from the get-go. I actually double-checked to make sure I wasn’t accidentally reading a galley, that’s how odd and dreary it looks. The bitch of it is that the shading and backgrounds are frequently nuanced and complex enough to conjure in your mind what this would look like in color, even just spot color or duotone, and the comparison isn’t flattering — it obscures more than it reveals. Meanwhile, for all of Duncan‘s substantial visual ambition and formal play, I never found writer-artist Adam Hines’s actual cartooning convincing. His characters seem not quite fully formed to me, the figurework just a little flaccid and unfinished, their dot-eyed cuteness recalling a webcomic that’s pleasant enough to look at but not anything that feels like a unique vision of how to construct a person or a world.

Hines’s real chops come in the artcomix elements of the book — flashes of photorealism utilized in Dave McKean-style abstract-comics fashion, extensive formal tomfoolery with text and graphics, and a plethora of narrative approaches that includes radio broadcasts, diaries, fourth-wall-breaking Q&As, streams of consciousness, textbooks, dreams and flashbacks, fairy tales, and straightforward storytelling. But there are problems here as well. Much of the text-heavy material comes across as overly verbose, overselling the points being made not just by the characters but by Hines himself in switching to whatever particular new format he’s using at the time. The dialogue in particular can get downright Bendisian at times, too in love with the sound of its own voice to truly evoke the naturalism it’s going for. Not always, mind you — sometimes it works great, usually when characters at cross-purposes must talk to each other as opposed to when people are sounding off monologue-style. But often those conversations are followed by a too on-the-nose journey into one of the participants’ heads via captions, and the verbal overload begins anew. Similarly, the visual flourishes swing for the fences, but they feel disconnected from the simple cartooning and character designs and thus took me out of the story rather than suggesting a world of transcendence and mystery beyond the frequently sad and unpleasant actions of the actual characters.

Those characters are undoubtedly Duncan‘s strong point. The asshole bigot politician who’s actually ruthlessly intelligent and self-aware as well as ambitious, the activist gibbon who through sheer will has gotten a seat at the table of power but will never really be welcome there, his human wife and the front of jovial “so-what” strength she must maintain, the anti-terror agent who sees his job as just a job yet has somehow found himself in the arch-nemesis slot for the animal kingdom’s Manson/Bin Laden figure, and that figure herself, a gratuitously cruel and hyperactive monkey whom the genuine injustices faced by animals in this world have literally driven insane. Just in writing that recap down I’m struck by how…well, to use a phrase I used earlier, fully formed these characters are. They’re fun to spend time around, however flat the logistics of their depiction may leave me, and I’m quite excited by the notion that Hines apparently has nine volumes of their lives planned out.

But here’s the thing: If I had their lives, any of their lives, I’d be a whole lot angrier. And maybe that’s my most fundamental, and surely my most personal, problem with Duncan the Wonder Dog: It just doesn’t come across as apocalyptically angry, which let’s be frank is how I feel when I think about animal rights. Reason-destroyingly, misanthropy-generatingly angry. Rooting for the terrorist monkey as she blows up colleges and shoots people in the face angry. I can’t really elaborate on this very much; it would degenerate into a barely coherent lecture and make me look ugly and foolish and hateful. But if I were to make art about animal rights — specifically, if I were to make a graphic novel about a world in which animals and animals have always been able to speak to one another and be understood, yet in which virtually nothing about the way we torture and slaughter countless millions of animals every day is any different from the way it is on this world — I want ugly and foolish and hateful. Duncan‘s ambition leaves it very little time for any of those things, and that’s a shame.

Album of the Year of the Day: Delorean – Subiza

December 26, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best albums of 2010. Today’s album is Subiza by Delorean, released by True Panther — endless summer.

Click here to download it from Amazon.

Comic of the Year of the Day: Snow Time

December 26, 2010

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is Snow Time by Nora Krug, self-published — like one of those little Christmas-village dioramas in a store window with a dead body in it.

Snow Time hides some rough stuff beneath its pretty surface, this time around telling the story of a man whose mother’s suicide has left him with dangerous abandonment issues. None of this is made clear until the middle of the story, after which the man’s apparent delight and attention to the snowman he’s built in his front yard in the middle of a weeks-long spate of snowstorms takes on a new (albeit only implied) punchline quality, and it’s a refreshingly chilling one.

Click here for a full review and a link to read the comic online for free (albeit in German).